06/29/2001 12:00AM

Juveniles ready for Criterium


MIAMI - Pure Precision, who turned in the most impressive performance of any 2-year-old at the meet, and Tabac, an easy victor of the Hialeah Juvenile, head a list of 16 colts and geldings nominated for next Saturday's $100,000 Criterium Stakes.

Pure Precision won his career debut by nearly 11 lengths with speed to spare for trainer Manny Tortora and George Steinbrenner's Kinsman Stable. Tabac was an impressive three-length winner of the Hialeah Juvenile in just his second career start. Tabac tuned up for the Criterium with a bullet 47.80-second half-mile work on Friday.

Salt Water Cowboy needed four starts to finally break his maiden at Hialeah but when he did it was with a track-record-equaling 15 1/2-length victory going 4 1/2 furlongs on May 19. He has been purchased privately since then by John Franks.

The Criterium has had some memorable runnings in its 30 year history, the best of which came in 1984 when Smile defeated Spend a Buck in the second division of the 5 1/2-furlong dash. Smile went on to sweep all three legs of the Florida Stallion Series that season and become the nation's sprint champion two years later. Spend a Buck earned even greater notoriety after he went wire to wire to capture the 1985 Kentucky Derby.


It's been a year of firsts for the women's jockey colony. Rosemary Homeister Jr. captured her first outright riding title this spring at Hialeah. Apprentices Patra Jean and Shauna Shelton won the first races of their careers. And last Saturday, Jocy Gomez posted her first stakes victory when guiding Multiplicity to a well earned tally in the $50,000 Office Queen Stakes.

For Gomez, it was not only her first stakes win but also the first mount she'd ever accepted in a stakes race.

"I was so excited, and it's a big plus for my career," Gomez said of her win on Multiplicity. "It seems like everybody around here has been coming up to congratulate me for the past several days. It's like I won the Breeders' Cup or something. All I ever asked was to be given the opportunity to ride good horses to show that I could get the job done."

Gomez and Multiplicity joined forces for the first time earlier this month in an optional claiming race and combined for a wire-to-wire, one-length victory. In the Office Queen, the pair again went right to the front then had to fend off a big run from Wander Mom through midstretch, coming again after being passed briefly to garner the victory.

"I thought we were beat when the other horse got in front of us, but my filly is very game and tries hard for me," Gomez said of Multiplicity. "We both just seem to click together."

Gomez came back Tuesday to register another victory for trainer Bill Kaplan and owners Herb and Ione Elkins aboard the first-time starter Maitake Gem and has now posted six wins during the current session.